Internet must be open: TRAI backs net neutrality

Internet must be open: TRAI backs net neutrality

The content mentioned includes all content, applications, services and any other data, including its end-point information, that can be accessed or transmitted over the internet.

While free web access is a good thing - especially in developing economies - it can't come with damning restrictions like the ones Facebook has in mind if the goal is to get everyone on an open and equal internet. "And, therefore, it is everybody's property.and, therefore, it should be open and accessible to everybody", Trai chairman R.S. Sharma told reporters. The recommendations are clearly aimed at stopping exploitative attempts by telecom operators to create fast or slow lanes for specific services - video apps, messengers and other "over-the-top" services - as it impedes on the basic idea of keeping the net free and fair for all its users. TRAI previously prevented Facebook from pushing Free Basics, a zero-rated service that granted access to select sites and services on its platform for free, while operating as a gatekeeper that could decide which sites would be allowed in.

However, an official with one of the telecom companies, on condition of anonymity, said the CDN exemption would be taken care of by the regulator's recommendation that the service providers should be restricted from entering into any arrangement, agreement or contract "that has the effect of discriminatory treatment based on content, sender or receiver, protocols or user equipment".

They also bar differential speeds for various offerings by internet service providers.

TRAI also recommended that "specialised services" and content delivery networks (CDNs) be excluded from the scope of "any rules on net neutrality".

India's telecom regulator, on Tuesday, came out swinging in favour of the principle of net neutrality, proposing a set of recommendations that would restrict "any form of discrimination or interference" in the treatment of online content.

The recommendations follow a consultation process that lasted for over a year, after the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) sought TRAI's views on the issue in March 2016, with an aim to "finalise a viewpoint" on net neutrality.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's headquarters in New Delhi. The Union minister for communications and telecom secretary are required to indicate whether the government of India accepts the independent regulator's recommendations and to announce how they plan to implement them.

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